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Before You Buy Walking Sandals

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Updated March 21, 2014

ABEO Sandals

ABEO Sandals

Wendy Bumgardner © 2012 Polished Toenails in Sandals

Polished Toenails in Sandals

Wendy Bumgardner © 2012

Walkers choose walking sandals or trail sandals for both short and long distance walks. As with any walking shoe, it is important to find a good fit and to test the walking sandals at shorter distances and with or without socks. Today's running sandals and trail sandals provide athletic shoe features such as motion control, flexibility, and secure strapping systems so your feet don't get rubbed raw by the straps.

Fitting Your Walking Sandals

Walking sandals must have enough adjustment points to keep your heel at the back of the sandal and prevent the foot "traveling" forward and back, rubbing against the straps with each step, which can lead to blisters. You must test sandals at actual walking distance to see whether foot swelling during walking makes your toes bump against the toe guard, which can lead to black toenail or blisters, or jut over the front edge.

    Flexibility, Cushioning, and Support

    Your foot rolls through each step, and your walking sandal must be flexible enough to roll with it as well. Too stiff of sole will have your foot fighting the sandal with each step. The sandal should be able to flex in the forefoot. Look for running sandals or trails sandals that provide the cushioning, support, and flexibility features of athletic shoes.

    Trail Sandals

    Trail sandals are designed for use on natural trails. Often they have toe guards to prevent stubbing your toes or picking up too much gravel and dirt. The sole is often more rugged and durable, but you must be cautious to ensure it is still flexible enough for comfortable walking. Popular trail sandal brands include Teva, Bite, and Keen

      Socks with Sandals

      Many of the walkers who wear sandals for walking 10 kilometers or more wear socks with them. Socks put a barrier between the straps and the foot, reducing the risk of hot spots and blisters. Many walkers say they wear their walking sandals year-round, which they can only do by adding socks. Socks can also wick moisture away from the sole of the foot to keep it dryer.

        Anatomic Sandals

        Birkenstock is the classic anatomic sandal, designed to mimic walking barefoot. Some walkers testify that only Birkenstocks have helped them overcome plantar fasciitis. New wearers may find an adjustment period to become accustomed to the difference in the design of anatomic sandals.

          Distance Walking with Sandals

          Sandals are best suited for shorter walks on surfaces that don't have much litter or gravel, which tends to get picked up by any sandal design. Once used to the sandals, some walkers wear them regularly for 10 kilometer or longer walks. While trail sandals are big sellers, hikers often report they are best used for daypacking or in camp rather than when carrying a heavy backpack on natural trails.

          Where to Buy Walking Sandals

          As with any walking shoes, you need to go to the experts to get properly fitted. A top quality outdoors store will have a selection of trail sandals, and a top quality running shoe store will have some running sandals. Visit, get fitted, and compare prices both online and in the shop.

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